January 28, 2016

The moaning of the wind through the trees gives voice to my restless mind.

I got a late start this morning, giving myself an extra hour of sleep. Mom was already up, circling the kitchen with hopes of breakfast in her eyes. want a new coffee cup. One that says, Thank you for not being perky. Happy shiny people are something to assiduously avoid in the morning, so after I fed the pets and took the pups out, I retired as usual to the ‘writing room’. You have to be conversant in Mumble if you want to talk to me in the morning. Luckily my husband and I are fluent Mumblists-one of the secrets to our marriage. Mom, on the other hand, wakes up perky, hungry, and rarin’ to go. I had wanted to work on the blog yesterday, but the first thing Mom did when she came out of her room was walk over and kick the puppy. “Mom! What did you do that for?” I asked her. As she waved me off and walked away she said, “For a while.” Sigh. So instead of getting anything else done, I sat and guarded my furry flock from further attack. J showed up in the afternoon, and I dragged myself and the dogs into my room for a nap. Stress just adds to exhaustion. I slept for three hours and could easily have slept on through the night. Moms activity for the day was to make flower arrangements and decorate jars for vases. But she dozed through mush of that, and most of J’s visit, really.

J and I spent the last few minutes chatting while keeping one eye on Mom, making sure she didn’t slide right off her chair. However...After J left I was still sitting at the table, and when the door shut Moms eyes opened, fully alert. She had been playing possum, probably listening for clues to ‘what’s going on’. That is her most common inquiry these days, I really appreciate J’s inventiveness, she always shows up with a project for Mom. These little activities are something Mom has come to enjoy, even though she can’t see them. She doesn’t actually do anything either, but J keeps up a running dialog, describing what things look like, and discussing every move she makes, letting Mom feel like she’s in control. The endless narration wears occasionally on Kevin and me, but for someone sight-challenged like Mom, the input seems appreciated. Ah…I can hear the rain begin to pound out its soggy, familiar refrain on the roof. I need to get a same day poop from the pup for his exam today, so I suppose I’ll have to follow him in the rain. We are having a lot of rain this winter, and we need it. But it’s going to be flirting with sixty degree days, with the snow level at over seven thousand feet. We really need to keep that water locked in snow, to use later in the year. We’ve had lots of snow in the mountains, but the rain means floods now and drought later for many in the Northwest. The long range forecasts seem to indicate that this will be the last El Nino year (in this cycle). I wonder what the backside of this phenomena will bring us. My guess is that we will continue to break records. So much so that we may as well just start over. Last year was the costliest in history for fighting wildfires. If that trend continues, I can see us reach a point where we simply let them burn themselves out.

Interesting choice of words…Freudian slip?

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November 22, 2015

I’m going to have to avoid sick people, for a while. 

Although I celebrate its ending, the long course of antibiotics is finally done, leaving me vulnerable to any bug that comes along. Of course, that won’t save me from my own bugs. I have my fingers crossed that C-Diff doesn’t take over. It’s a painful condition brought about by long term antibiotic use. It presents with high fever and painful diarrhea. I had been on antibiotics for two months, without an infection. I would hate to travel the battlefield of my gut right now. Its time for some probiotics, yogurt, and sweet acidophilus milk. I should have requested a prescription for Diflucan at the last appointment. Mom has me a little worried that something is going on with her. Yesterday she went back to bed right after breakfast, but got back up in twenty minutes or so, and then after lunch went back to bed again. This time, she stayed down. So when the caregiver showed up, there wasn’t’ much for her to do. I was able to fill her in on Moms situation and a few of her quirks, but after a couple of hours just talking, I let her go. Mom, of course, got up right after the caregiver left. It seemed she spent much of yesterday in prayer, or so her posture proclaimed, hands steepled together and the faintest movement of lips on her serene countenance. But she looks tired and flushed, so I worry.

Mornings are covered with frost, the grass crispy underfoot as I walk Einstein around the property. Aside from wind and thunder, he seems impervious to weather. He has silver guard hairs that keep the moisture away from his body, and a soft black undercoat to keep him warm. The views right now are startling in their beauty, in a place known for just that. The air has been clear enough to see both Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood, and the ridges of the Olympic and Cascade Mountains once again sport shining caps of crystalline white. The last storm stripped most of the fall leaves off the trees and underbrush. We had almost no ski season last year, but as the last storm passed, all but one or two resorts have now opened for the season. I too hope for more snow, but not to necessarily play in. I would like to see our water levels rise. The salmon were hit hard with last year’s drought, the smaller streams where they would normally spawn were dry. I would be happy about a comeback, but the government just dealt a blow by approving the first GMO salmon for human consumption. And they are not required to label it. Tell me this doesn’t sound like a scene out of Jurassic Park-they claim there is no danger to wild salmon, because they are genetically designed to be unable to procreate. Like Jeff Goldblum in the movie, I too believe that life finds a way.

The genetically modified fish grow at twice the rate of normal ones. To me that suggests they also eat twice the amount of food, in direct competition with their wild cousins. I wish just once that technology would be fully understood before we jump into the pool. For now, I will only buy fish from sources that I know do not and will not carry Frankenfish. Like from the fishermen themselves. We are lucky to live in an area of abundant food. With just a little knowledge, you could live fine off the land and sea. In fact, you would have to be a little lazy or stupid to starve, if you are otherwise healthy. What doesn’t occur naturally grows easily, for the most part. This abundance is evident in the native culture of the Pacific Northwest. With food and shelter relatively easy to come by, they were able to build a rich tradition in stories and artwork. Giving is an important factor in the culture as well. A persons wealth was calculated by how much they had to give. At a big Potlach, a person may well give away all they own. But they don’t go without, because others give to them. This fosters a laudable generosity throughout the community, and we could learn much from it. It also speaks to the impermanence of things. The value is on the giving, not the gift itself. I hope I have not misspoken anything here of their culture, and apologize if I have been mistaken in my representation of the Northwest Tribes. The values I have mentioned are but some of what I admire in them.

My interest in their culture was born when I tried my hand at their art. It is a formal, traditional style of representation. Structured and stylized, the images are powerful, beautiful. When I met my husband, I was painting steam bent cedar boxes crafted by a local woodworker. Steam bending boxes is another local native art form, and the boxes hold only one seam. We sold them to the Native Art Gallery in Blyn, who made twice the money of both of us put together. Unless you have your own gallery, the middle man will take most of the profit. Most artists are not skilled at promoting, or the business side of things, you just hope your work gets out there, and gets seen. I’ve had a long hiatus from my artwork, but that doesn’t worry me. I know that when I pick up pen and brush again, it will be better than before. The boys in the basement never stop working in my subconscious. I simply haven’t felt the need that foreshadows creation. There are ideas percolating in my head, but they are yet vaporous, without form. My creativity comes out in other ways these days-costuming for Steampunk events, landscaping, and of course, writing. I don’t create the storyline here, I try to bring it to life with words that evoke recognition in the hearts of others.

September 8, 2015

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The morning starts with a full chorus of coyote song.

A very nervous Einstein did his business as quickly as possible, with yips and yelps and full throated howls surrounding the clearing. Although I keep a wary eye open, there really isn’t much danger at this time of year, the coyotes are usually well fed during the summer, and taking on a fully grown adult and a dog is not worth the effort. But I’m happy to have the puppy scared and not defiant, because winter is coming, and everyone will be hungry. Coyotes are known to use different methods to lure dogs away from their homes. Sending in a lone coyote so the dog will give chase, waiting until they have full cover, and ambush with the rest of the pack. When we lived in Oregon, the winters were harsh. The wily coyotes down there would send in a female, in heat. That was usually sufficient to draw at least the male dogs away from home. Einstein is not the best guard dog. He starts out well, rushing forward and barking his head off. But then the tail starts wagging and he starts grinning, tail beating a tattoo on the ground as he ingratiates himself to the new humans. That’s okay, though, he barks. And he has a deep bark for a little guy. Barking is the real deterrent when someone is breaking in, not fear that a dog will bite them. I feel better, having a dog when living this far out of town. While the roofing crew was leaving yesterday, he was so occupied saying goodbye that he completely missed the large doe in the yard. But after they left, he found the scent trail and off he went, for a little after-the-fact chase. He knows most of the trails that surround the house now, and he loves to check each one. We usually hit the trail at least once a day. I’ve been mapping things out in my mind, imagining how to augment the magic.

I have several large pieces of colored glass that we picked up outside of Zion. I’ve been watching the movement of the sun through the woods, and placing chunks of glass on stumps in the forest. When the sun hits them, they send colored light through the trees. I have other oddities, little statues and stuff, that you might chance upon as you wander the trails. Just little things to ponder as you walk through the wild beauty of Soggy Bottom Acres. Perhaps a small pagan god statue in a grove of cedars, or a gargoyle fountain by a dark lagoon. There’s a metal bird dripping crystals hanging from a tree, and in another, a glass egg sits in an exposed nest. Just a little test, to see how many times someone will say, “What the…?” The water fowl are moving back in now that the pond is filling back up, and the frogs are once again finding their voices. We’re due to have a little warm up in the weather, flirting with eighty degrees. But you can tell the difference in the air, a crispness that summer lacks. In fall and winter, our winds come from the North, down the Frasier Valley, the Polar Express. In the evenings and early mornings now, my breath steams in the breeze. Long sleeves will be comfortable again soon. We caught up on our rain levels in the past week or so, putting us slightly ahead for the year. That’s good for us here on the Island, because our aquifer depends on rainfall. Not so good for the people around us, who depend on snowmelt to replenish their supply.The bare rock of the Olympics is still ominous. By this time next year, I’m betting that voluntary water restrictions will be mandatory, and probably more restrictive as we head into another year of drought.

I gave Einstein a bath yesterday, he likes to explore the puddles in what was a pond. The mud in those holes is slick and black with decay. The water in the pond is clear, but that black mud makes it look somewhat sinister and mysterious. He loves it. Making noise and getting dirty are two of his favorite things. The roofers are almost finished with the garage roof. They’ll finish up today. They will still need to come back and repair a couple of things, but the roof won’t leak. The tank room, where we keep a cistern for our water, needs more ventilation. The room is kept sealed so that no light gets in to grow algae in the tank. But sealing it let to moisture damage-and it stinks to high…well, you know. The new roof is sort of a dusty charcoal, and we’re going to repaint the garage, possibly in the same colors we used on our house in Vegas. We painted our house down there a soft, sage green, with taupe trim. The old homestead is starting to look completely different as we make it ours. Once we put in a new home, it will truly be our own. There wasn’t much going on with Mom yesterday, keeping Einie out of the house left her with little to complain about. She seems to be taking somewhat of a break on the audible books at the moment. Sometimes I will sit in the Office and just watch her, trying to guess her thoughts by the expressions that fleetingly cross her features. She’s not giving them up, either, preferring to keep the mysteries to herself. I know that she’s getting more impatient and excited now that her birthday is almost here. I am too, and it’s such a bonus to have the whole family here again, after only three months. I’m thinking of changing her hairstyle to something that doesn’t make her look like a Kewpie doll in the morning. If I survive…

August 13, 2015

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What began as pleasant showers, ended with heavy, oppressive heat.

The morning sprinkles did little more than kick up the humidity for the afternoon. This is like the desert, where it never rains enough-unless it floods. Still, the morning was gorgeous. And after staring with futility at the screen for two hours, I decided to take Einstein and head outdoors. Sitting in the yard as shadows fled into the forest, I let the golden light wash over me and listened as the world began to shake off the bonds of sleep. Even though it’s mid-August, the leaves on many of the smaller trees are already turning and dropping. It’s because of the drought, and some of the smaller trees are even dying. Everything started early this year, too, with the mild winter we had. The breezes were playing a swirling game of hide-and-seek in the treetops, and when they chanced to tickle me, I could feel the change. There’s a distinct chill that portends the coming winter. In former years, from here to about mid-September was your best chance for reliable summer sunshine. Now, I am already tired of the relentless illumination of the sun and want to flee into the cool shadows, or immerse myself in the chilling waters of Mystery Bay. Today will be more of the same, except we’re expecting the rain to come late this time. So the humidity is already in place. Another thing that’s odd about this year, normally when it’s humid, its cooler, and when it’s drier, hotter. Having the heat and humidity makes me wonder if we’re not switching from temperate rainforest to tropical.

Today is a day for getting out of the house. I was planning on going to the open air concert in Port Townsend, but now it looks like Kevin won’t be running the show until next week. We’ll see how the day goes. But I at least want to get Mom out of the house for a bit, so I’ll come up with some errands. It might be a good day to go out to Red Dog Farm and get some good veggies. Einstein would like that, Red Dog is named after a border collie, who greets all the visitors to the farm. They had another dog in training as a greeter, but it got hit by a car and no longer wants anything to do with it. And I need to make some appointments for Mom. She needs to get back to her eye doctors, and we can now get going on her teeth. And I need to call the Medicaid to helpline to get some questions answered about the paperwork. In fact, that is a priority if I’m to have any hope of help post surgery. My sister will stay for a week after surgery to help here, but I’m not supposed to lift anything for six weeks. I’ve been there before, trying to recuperate while helplessly watching my house get dirtier and messier. Once I get my questions answered, I will make Mom an appointment with her doctor, for a referral to Home Health. Kevin is also dealing with a bum knee, a hernia, and he just broke a tooth the other day. What a pair we are. Hopefully the doctor will understand that, at this time, her caregivers could use a little help.

We’ve accomplished enough in the yard to see what it will look like, but there’s still so much to do. It’s been a good year for getting things done in the yard, so at least the sunny weather has helped there. I’m going to have to make a decision about when to call it a year, but I don’t like to leave things half done. I think I will finish the topiary tree and the side I’ve been tidying up, and call it good. The deer seem to like the change, even with Einstein here, they have been coming to investigate. The coyotes and raccoons are probably not too happy, though, they like low cover. In one day, all of the wildflowers in the yard turned to puffballs. They were the only thing really growing out there, most of the grass is pretty shot. So I think one more mow for the year will do it. Unless we get a really good dose of rainfall and then some more sun, I think the grow season in the yard is about over. We already know that it will be another mild winter. I’m hoping we get lots of steady, soaking rainfall, but it’s probably more likely that we’ll start with a deluge and watch more cliffside homes topple into the Sound. It’s either too much or too little.

My middle son and his family just went through a typhoon is Saipan, where they have been living the last couple of years. They are fine, thank goodness-I haven’t even met my new granddaughter yet! They’ve been busy since the storm, helping with relief efforts. I haven’t allowed myself to think about what catastrophes will happen with the coming winter, because Im afraid they will be worse than I can imagine. We have broken so many weather records here this year that I believe we have broken the record for most records broken. The other day, on our trip to Port Angeles, the ridge line of the Olympic Mountains was bare of snow, and even the glaciers were dirty, dark remnants of what they had been before. So dirty, that they were barely distinguishable from the mountains themselves. It is a sight that I have never seen before, and it filled me with nameless dread. The speed at which things are changing now tells me that no one can predict the outcome of these changes. Maybe Mother Earth is tired of having her skies polluted, and watching the carbon that she spent eons sequestering safely underground, destroy the peaceable kingdom. Perhaps she recognizes us as a destructive parasite and wants to shake us off the skin of this planet. And we…are not ready.

August 2, 2015

Monk-writing

Life without the distractions of the World Wide Web is going smoothly.

Except for the posts that are piling up, waiting their debut. Even writing has been a little easier without a deadline for publishing. I have taken back control, and am no longer a slave to a schedule. Because of that, I am actually able to accomplish more with each day. Without a deadline, creativity flows more freely and I remember that it is a joy to write, to have that release of the pressure inside my head, where all these thoughts get jammed up. Yesterday I concentrated on the inside of the house, and I nearly finished the job. I even had time for a guilt-free, three hour nap. I still had time to make fried chicken, green beans, and parmesan noodles for dinner. I cleaned out the birds’ cage, which was long overdue, and did most of the vacuuming. For some reason, vacuuming is one of the things that hurts my back the most. Without the detritus of puppy all over the floor, it looks pretty good. Until the next time Einstein sneaks in a piece of wood to chew on, anyway. He tries to help me, especially with making beds. And he’s always ready to perform his official duty as a plate licker. I try to limit his intake of people food to licking already scraped dishes. He gets little more than a taste, that way. I can’t deny that he gets stray bites here and there, but we try to resist those liquid brown eyes when we can. He’s far from overweight, but it’s something to watch. At least we eat mostly  good, nutritious food. (I’m looking at my bag of Red Vines.) With the amazing restorative powers of the young and healthy, Einsteins sore toe was mostly forgotten by the next day. He did spend most of yesterday sleeping, though.

Kevin will certainly sleep in this morning, it’s his zombie day. We established the first day off as a zombie day back when we both worked night shift. When you work nights, you spend that first day just trying to adjust. Nowadays, he works a day shift. So of course on his Fridays he stays up all night-ensuring the appropriate zombie-ness for his first day off. To indulge his need, I think the dog and I will go back to outside endeavors today. Yesterday was supposed to be the hottest for the week, and even thought it will still be hot, there’s hope for a shower by midweek. The outdoor transformation is beginning to take shape. Opening up the edges of the clearing makes  our space feel so much larger. It’s looking much more like an estate than just a clearing in the woods. The Christmas tree is looking more topiary, taking on a very interesting shape-like an elevated mountain horizon. I’m not trying to make it look like anything of my design, I’m more curious to see what it wants to be. I probably should have done ‘before’ pictures, but everyone will have to settle for ‘after’. And not until it’s done.

Part of what has driven our outdoor efforts is the drought. We’re going to have to stop calling it the Great Northwet, if this keeps up. In a normal year, the branches, leaves, and trees that fall quickly break down in the moist conditions of the temperate rain forest. Dead trees transform into nurseries, providing nutrients and a stable base for future generations. Now, even the larger branches I pick up are nearly weightless, and powder dry. Instead of moist, rich mulch, the forest floor is covered by several inches, to several feet, of dry tinder. Clearing back into the forest will be a long, hard slog, but having a buffer zone around the house would be a good start. We had originally planned on leaving the front of the house and concentrating on the back, by the pond. But for the time being, we still spend most of our time out front, and it’s getting nicer to look at every day. Again, no pictures until it’s done.

At least it looks more like a rainforest, with the blackberries gone. Now instead of an impenetrable wall of vegetation, my gaze falls into the forest, with the ferns and lush growth. Our forest is a good place to allow imagination full rein. Even sitting in one spot, the view changes as the sun makes its passage overhead. Golden, sparkling light makes love to the green of the forest, lighting special places on its way. The story it reveals is of life itself. Wandering in our forest reveals many ecosystems. From wetlands, ranging from pond to dark and mysterious trails through black water; to a clearing filled with tall ferns, where the deer bed down at night with their fawns; and up, to tall firs and stately cedars, splitting rays of light onto the scene below. The more we open up trails and explore our world, the more wonderland is revealed to us. I’m sure I shouldn’t keep singing the praises of the paradise we live in, the more people think its cold and rainy and grey, the better. In some ways, it’s a good thing that in this age of technology, people are flocking more to urban areas than rural living, but it is a loss to humanity as a whole, to lose touch with the natural world. And not just images you see on a screen, no matter how large it is. You need to smell it, to breathe it in-get a sense of the wonder around you. Feel the rich earth you crumble in your hand, marvel at the miracle of a dragonfly in jeweled flight. They say all politics is local. All awareness is personal, and not meant to be lived vicariously. My advice? Get out of town, go until you can see the stars. Find an unpopulated beach and sit there with eyes closed, allowing your other senses to paint a picture. Get out there. Well. Not here, there. There…there. Oh, what the heck, sure. Drop on by, just turn right at the glacial erratic.

July 29, 2015

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*A quick apology for my absence…all will be revealed.*

I rise this morning weighed down by creaking vertebrae and worried thoughts. 

I tried a new neck pillow. I tried. For about six hours, then it gave me a massive headache that lasted most of the remainder of the night. I just need a vacation from the pain. What really kept me restless, though, is Mom. Her appetite has been off, which is strange-even when she doesn’t eat well, she’s always hungry. Not the last few days…even for breakfast. Kevin maintains that her nocturnal wandering and confusion are recently worse as she endlessly searches for an answer, even though the question itself is long forgotten. She doesn’t really appear to be sleeping at night, period. I’ve told him that this is not unusual for an ALZ patient, but it does sound as though there is an extra element of anxiety involved. And she has literally been napping all day. She has been so somnolent that I checked her vitals. Yesterday her blood pressure was running low, both in the morning and at night. Her respirations are fine, she doesn’t have a temperature, and her heart beat is strong and even. She isn’t dizzy on rising, and her gait is the same as always. She has no complaints. (surprise, surprise) I will check again this morning, and if it’s still low, I’ll give the doctor a call. I have to be careful not to interfere with the natural process of dying (when it comes), but at the same time, we want to treat anything that is treatable or is causing her discomfort. Being a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), I know not to interfere if she has a heart attack or stops breathing. But with less drastic things, a sprain, break or bleed-or minor illnesses, it can be treated. If she’s just going through a minor slump, I don’t want to get too excited. So I’m taking a cautious approach. I hesitate to ask her doctor for an anxiety medication at night, because of her low blood pressure, and sleeping pills do not help turn an ALZ patients’ circadian rhythms back to normal. We’ll see how today goes.

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I don’t like it when my back makes noises. There’s something really creepy about hearing your own bones grinding together as you move. It doesn’t make the pain any worse (or any less), so I suppose it’s just an aesthetic irritation, but it bothers me, nonetheless. It’s the sort of thing that, in my dreams would happen in the silence of a church, with all of my friends and family in attendance. They would have their heads bowed in prayer, only to have it interrupted by the sound of a dog gnawing a bone whenever I moved. Or I would suppose that a predator, hearing that, would imagine I were already being eaten. Hey, in the wee hours, the only coherent thoughts I have usually follow flights of fancy. Color my thoughts macabre. I took care of a woman once who had severe arthritis. When I would help her to the bathroom, I could not only hear it-but through my hand on her back, I could feel the grinding of her bones. She felt like an animated bag of Rice Krispies. It’s not like my imagination doesn’t have fodder to fuel it… There’s only one thing to do in times like these-work it, baby, work it. Use it or lose it is a mantra often repeated in the halls of long-term care. And it’s true, even-or perhaps especially, in cases like mine, with degenerative arthritis. You have to keep moving through the pain. Because if you don’t, the consequences can be pretty bad. It isn’t simply losing the use of limbs that you have to deal with. Think of the worst muscle cramp you’ve ever had. Now slooow it down. Contractions are what happen when muscles are no longer used. The strongest muscle wins, drawing the limbs inward into curled fetal position, and locking them in place. Once contracted, they don’t let go. In the muscles of my back where the fusions are, the muscles have been locked for so long that there is a canyon down my spine that my husband can use for a handle-and he does.

Again, we’ll see how the day goes. I have a bunch of phone calls to make, radio check-ins are this morning, and the number of chores needing my attention never seems to get any smaller. Kevin thinks that maybe getting Mom out of the house today would be a good idea. We’ll see…I do need to get her in for a shampoo, and her regular girl is on maternity leave. And I need some outside time with Einstein. This may be the last bearable day to be outside this week, a string of nineties is supposedly headed our way. There are some things outside that are half done and it’s making me crazy. Besides, the outdoor plants need water before the heat comes. I’m still getting used to the need to water outdoors. We’re already behind on rainfall heading into the two driest months of the year. The scientists are all saying 2014 was the benchmark-the tipping point, if you will. But I think that this summer will have its place in the record books. And heading into next year this dry…when do we reach the point where there’s nothing left in places like California to burn? When I look at all the mega-storms and record breakers we’ve experienced, I believe it’s only going to get progressively worse, and much faster than anyone is prepared for. Since a recent New York Times article, a lot of people around here have been talking about ‘The Big One’. I believe in emergency preparedness, but when you’re talking about forces like those that create mountains, I don’t really think anyone here would have to worry…for too long. I look at it much the same way as considering the super volcano overdue to go off in Yellowstone, which would also pretty much wipe us out…all bets are off.

July 18, 2015

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It was the last pleasant day before more record temperatures. 

We will be hunkered down in the shade today and tomorrow, before the temperatures dip back into reasonable levels. I’m not sure which of the many tasks I will accomplish today…there are options. Which really only means that I have let some of the work pile up. The more distasteful the task, the more excuses come to mind. Physical discomfort plays its role, and apparently justification follows as well-not once have I mentioned the word lazy. Now, I don’t think that lazy is as bad as sloth. Sloth is a character flaw, while laziness is a more temporary, I don’t feel like doing that today kind of thing. Practiced in moderation, laziness frees you from the grindstone. Who hasn’t enjoyed a lazy summer day, or set everything aside to snuggle up with a good book in winter? say occasional laziness is good for the soul. A balanced person can’t ever stay lazy for long, their bodies compel them to move. Sickness and depression, however, tend to steal your inertia, leaving you with no will at all. It’s easy to say “keep moving”, we all know that it helps with depression. I look at exercise more as a maintenance issue than a rescue, though-when you are deep in the black hole, it takes a backhoe to dig you out. At the moment, I can see the clouds but they don’t block my view of the horizon.

Mom and I had a very enjoyable afternoon. We took her for her hair appointment, and there was a lady with a dog just the right size for Einstein. He had a ball playing while Mom had her hair done. Then we ran back to the house, because of course I forgot the paperwork for Einsteins license. Neither of us minded, the day was gorgeous and the scenery breathtaking. It was cooler in the car, with a nice breeze pulling Moms hair in directions her hairdresser never intended. She was adorable, with eyes half closed and a gentle smile on her face, white hair flying around like Einie’s namesake. We travelled out to the Humane Society to get my dog all legal-he’s mine! He has a third tag on his collar, and we haven’t gotten him a name-tag yet. He has a rabies tag, a tag from Home Again with his microchip info, and his county license. Bling! At least he can’t sneak up on the cats. After that I took a different turn, and we wandered the back roads between Port Townsend and Cape George, getting lost on purpose just to see what’s out there. It’s been a long time since I just took a drive. We both felt refreshed afterwards, although it was nice to get back home. I had stuck a pork roast in the slow cooker for pulled pork sandwiches, and the aroma enveloped us with savory goodness when we returned to the house. Or, as Mom called it, “Our apartment building.” Sure, Mom, why not? All in all, it was a really nice day, even though our accomplishments were sometimes on the intangible side.

There was one cloud in my sunny day. It’s really only the start of summer, and there are only tiny patches of snow on the peaks of the Olympic Mountains. Normally even at the end of August, everything above the tree line is covered in white. Water management is becoming a priority up here. We’ve always practiced water conservation on the Island. There has never been easy access to water out here, all the wells are basically seepage. I can remember years where Mom would go out to the garden and give each individual plant a single cup of water. You can still see the  emerald forests that we are known for in the Pacific Northwest, but the fields and underbrush are all brown and tinder dry. Restrictions are already in place against collecting rainwater. I guess you can stand and get wet in it, but you can’t keep it. There is a primal fear in the back of everyone’s mind, a word that is spoken in shocked but hushed tones, as though speaking it aloud will bring it…wildfire. Yesterday, in one of the busiest arteries in the West between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, a fast moving fire jumped the freeway, torching a half dozen cars. I stopped watching when they declared a mass casualty incident, believing that may of the people stuck in traffic were in danger of being cut off and surrounded by flames. They had helicopters dropping water on the burning vehicles…that stretch of highway is cursed. Maybe they will finally get moving on high speed rail. Many a fledgling fire up here has been extinguished already, we could see burned lawns on the way to town, and there has been at least one here on the Island. Everyone here is working hard to cut dry grasses and fire proof as well as we can.

We are entering a new normal, and no one really knows what will happen. Scientists are now saying that we have gone past the tipping point, and at this juncture global warming is a runaway train. It is said that it will take thousands of years, if not millennia, for the Earth to return to normal. There was a storm yesterday in the Midwest that had three funnel clouds churning from it. Storms are only going to increase in strength. Pardon my bluntness, but its high time that climate deniers take their heads out of their asses. It no longer matters who caused it, whether man-made or natural it’s undeniably real. Now is the time to put our collective heads together and figure out how to survive. I can remember when all of these disastrous things were a scientists’ worry. Something that, if it happened at all, would happen well past our lifetimes. But it’s here, now. It makes me wonder if the age of humankind isn’t coming to an end, and if I might actually witness it. As momentous as that would be, I’d rather not…I would much rather believe that we have a future. We had better get cracking, though, this is due to become an increasingly hostile planet. Hey…we started it.

July 1, 2015

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We’ve just had the hottest June on record, let’s see what fireworks July will bring.

The wildfires are already bad, one fast moving fire destroyed nearly thirty homes in Wenatchee, in eastern Washington. I have a bad feeling about this fire season, because it has started so early. I think we need to reevaluate our fire policies, given the drought conditions and the tremendous cost of fighting wildfires. There is almost no snowpack left on the Olympic Mountains, summer is just getting started, and the forecast is for another warm winter. As bad as the weather has been throughout the country, this must be an exciting time for meteorologists. Texas is drowning and California is burning. Storms are becoming behemoths, and the entire landscape is changing. Islands and coastlines are surrendering to the ocean, while volcanic activity and earthquakes change the topography of the land. The entire planet is in the grip of change, and not in our favor. There has even begun speculation of another mass extinction, Now. As momentous as the occasion might be, I don’t really care to be around for that. I’m  sure I will bear witness to many things I never would have dreamed of. I just hope that the good things triumph. I don’t have much faith that our politicians will do anything significant, they’re all too busy fiddling while Rome burns. And we are not without fault ourselves, we have stood idly by while greed and need have raped the only planet we call home. Someone, probably long ago, figured out that there were too many of us for the planets’ resources to support. They must have figured that, say, one percent might come out of this alive…and they’ve been grabbing resources ever since. The morning music outside my window sounds especially lovely this morning, reminding me that for now, the world is yet a beautiful, vibrant place. And while darkness looms, we have not yet surrendered to it.

Tomorrow is going to be a very early day, and a big test for Einstein and his separation anxiety. I have to be in Silverdale at nine am, to meet with the breast surgeon. I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be writing tomorrow. If I do, it will be late in the day. There’s going to be a lot of information to process, and a long day, to boot. Since we will already be in Silverdale, Mom and I will do a much needed shopping trip to Walmart, for essentials. It will probably be mid-afternoon before we get home. Then an hour of soothing and playing with puppy, before I can rest.  I got him a soccer ball, and is the hit I had hoped it would be. It’s too big for him to bite, but he pushes it around with his nose, and has a wonderful time. It’s a lot easier on us old folks if he does most of the work of wearing himself out. He’s teething right now, and his goofy grin includes only one canine tooth. Einie got his first bath from me yesterday, and he was very good. I’ve noticed that he has some anxiety when I fill Moms’ tub, or mine. Since he has to be every place that I am, he has gotten used to seeing me in the tub, and that it’s not so bad. I put him in the tub when there was only a couple of inches of water in it, and let him slowly adjust. Although he did start whining towards the end, he didn’t freak out-and now I think we’ve cured his anxiety on that score. Not that he loves it, but at least he doesn’t fear it. He was adorably fluffy for the rest of the day. And he smells good, although I can still smell him around and inside his ears…he has a good doggy smell.

Mom really seemed to enjoy listening to the sermons from her Church online. Kevin assures me that we can put them on a thumb drive for her to listen to on her audible book. She had a little difficulty hearing it on the computer, but once I put earphones on her, she did fine. Her audible book will crank the sound up much higher, and I get my laptop back. She’s definitely tired of listening to her current selection of books. Yesterday she said, “I keep thinking this book is going to end, but it just goes on and on…” Tell me about it, Mom. Her vision has gotten bad enough that she rarely comes into the living room to actually try and watch TV. She prefers to sit at her table, and just listen. Which of course means the TV has to be even louder, so that she can hear it from there. Ruh roh. I just heard Kevin’s alarm and remembered he’s going in early today. So I suppose I should wrap this up. Theo is announcing at the door that Mom is up, and he’s not happy about it. I have radio checks to do this morning, and I’m going to do my best to get everyone fed and bedded down early tonight. Stop laughing up there, I can hear you.

June 24, 2015

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The house doesn’t look like it yet, but I actually accomplished two of my goals.

And…then I collapsed once again. This is getting to be a really bad habit. No time for any of that today, with guests coming tomorrow. Mom is really looking forward to the visit. She doesn’t care who’s coming, only that they are. She will like them, though. My sister-in-law was a nurse as well, and she will keep up a lively conversation. Just what Mom needs, after a week of somnolent housemates. This morning will of course be busy with radio check-ins, and then I do need to buckle down and get some phone calls out of the way. This afternoon I will concentrate on laundry, picking up, fluffing, and finally, vacuum. Which all depends on how hot it is, and how functional am. Lately, that hasn’t been much. It’s going to get very hot over the next few days, in a heat wave that is blanketing the West. Temperatures in Nevada and Arizona will be at record-breaking levels. It’s a dry heat, true, but so is an oven. And breezes don’t cool you off, they just feel like industrial size blow dryers. The projections are for a warmer than normal winter again, too. El Nino just seems to have parked off the West coast. The wildfires in California present another problem. In drought conditions, can they really afford to fight big fires?

I’m not getting any peace this morning. Nicci has decided to claim her share of the morning love, and came in after the last foray into the danger zone for coffee. Einstein thinks of her as a challenge, and while he doesn’t chase Theo anymore, Nicci continues to run from him. Einstein considers that play, and so it’s all he wants to do when she’s around. Once she learns to hold her ground, she’ll be fine. And as long as they’re not going to allow me to write, I believe I’ll just go back to bed.

June 19, 2015

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There’s a crisp freshness to the air this morning, washed clean by an overnight rain.

Even the birdsongs are liquid with happiness. We badly need the rain. Water…the source of life. Drought, global drought, is going to play an increasing role going into the future. California has resorted to using groundwater to meet its demands. While they sit on one of the worlds largest aquifers, satellite imaging shows that they are draining it dry-and that water is not being replenished. And before we start thinking that it isn’t our problem, remember that Cali is one of the country’s largest producers of food. Right now I am blessed to live in a place where food is still abundant. But the oceans are in big trouble, and they have already put restrictions in this state on collecting rainwater. Forget winter, drought is coming. For those of us lucky enough to live here, the Pacific Northwest is projected to be one of the last places with water. Before you feel good about that, ask yourself-where are all the people without water going to go? My guess would be where the water is. There was a conference in Nevada some years ago about the coming drought. Some countries in the Middle East already have controls in place, where each person is allowed so many liters per week. How you use it is up to you, but it’s all you get. Our ‘make hay while the sun shines’ attitude is going to undergo a sea change when there’s no water to grow hay. And in the future, there will be wars fought over it. When they come to invade, it won’t be because they envy us our freedom, but because they’re thirsty. I think we’ve developed a tendency, at least in this country, to simply ignore problems as though nothing could possibly happen to us. Overall, we not only ignore the fact that we are still at war, in multiple conflicts, but that we are facing a historical disaster that has the potential to wipe our species out. Can we turn it around? Perhaps the better question is, will we? Let me put it this way. Water already costs more per bottled liter at 7-Eleven than gas. By the barrel of oil? No contest. We all know that oil is a finite resource, but I don’t think that most people realize that there is a very real possibility that fresh water could run out as well. When I was a child, water was as close as the nearest hose, and it was free, cold, and clean. I was there when we started getting charged for water, the arrival of bottled water…now some can set it on fire from their fracking faucets.

Back to Soggy Bottom, where the world still glistens with dew, and the grey skies still grace us with life-giving rain. Borrowing again from Stephen King, and Steve-if I get it wrong, I apologize…and all is well and all manner of things be well. I got a call from the VA yesterday-when I was taking a bath, of course, so I missed it.  By the time I realized that they had called, it was too late. I will call first thing this morning with the hopes that they have this thing figured out and we can get started with the surgeon. My sister called yesterday from Oregon to let us know that my niece came through her exploratory surgery just fine, but they still haven’t identified the source of her pain. Each cause that is eliminated just seems to extend her suffering. It’s hauntingly similar to what’s happening to my sister as well, who can barely maintain enough weight to survive. My sister was worried that my surgery would be coming up fast, and she has extra tests to undergo following her annual physical. She still wants to come up and stay with Mom when I go under the knife, but we’ll see how she’s doing. I would hate to impose on my brother after all he’s already done, but I’m sure he would be willing to come down for a couple of days, if she can’t do it. I think it will still take a couple of months to get everything set up.

It’s been a while since I had small kids, and I’ve never heard more than bits of the song “Let it Go’ from the Disney movie, “Frozen”. But after listening to a couple of Mom’s audiobooks over and over and…I can understand the frustration. Yesterday I stayed in the office and watched Orange is the New Black on my computer with earbuds. Even though she sleeps through most of them, even Mom has to be tired of listening to the same thing over again. I think there’s still one that she hasn’t listened to, but I’m going to have to check all the cases, she’s been switching books. There’s one that she keeps listening to that is some kind of vampiric love story for teens. (Not Twilight) I have no idea how that one got ordered. It’s Moms hair day, so we will at least get out of the house for a while today. Now that I think about it, I don’t believe she’s been out of her pajamas since the last shampoo. The pajamas have changed, of course, but she hasn’t dressed in street clothes for a week. She’s been in good humor the last couple of days. During the phone call with my sister, she decided to reassert her independence. It was decided, by her, that she would stay up to watch M*A*S*H, and that she was perfectly capable of doing her bath all by herself. “What’s so hard about filling a tub?” She asked. I said, “Sure, Mom. We can do that.” I was making shrimp pasta for dinner, and I delayed as long as I could, to give Kevin time to come home and join us. She ate pretty well, and was done just about the time the show came on. She did pretty well during the first episode, but started snoozing during the second. Needless to say, by the time we bade goodnight to Hawkeye and his merry band of medical misfits, she was ‘too tired’ to take a bath. There’s no harm in letting her give it a try, once in a while. We are traversing deceptive terrain right now with her cognition. You never know when she will pop up with an inappropriate line, or when she might be completely there. Life has always been an adventure with my mother, and it still is.